Focus on Training Aids-
Tools of the Trade
PGA Professionals have more success using and selling training aids than others
the instructor, we know. But it never hurts to have a little help in the classroom,
or the range in your case. Which is why this month we present to you some of the
latest training aids available on the market.
are designed to help PGA teaching professionals, others to assist students. Thus,
if you can't use any of the items in the chart on the pages that follow, either
on the practice range or in your golf shop, you may be able to recommend them
to your students.
Professionals Look For
are many training aid preferences as there are teaching styles and learning keys.
Essentially, an aid is most effective with particular students with whom it strikes
the right chord. Virgil Herring, PGA director of instruction at Gaylord Hotel's
Springhouse Links in Nashville and owner/founder of the Higher Performance Golf
Academy in Old Hickory, Tenn., is devoted to teaching amateurs how to improve
their golf game. In fact, Herring was the Tennessee PGA Section Teacher of the
Year in 2003. So with all of his experience in instruction, and with his livelihood
depending on it, Herring is specific with how he uses training aids and what he's
seeking when he adds one to his repertoire.
look to see if it trains the students in a way that can enhance muscle memory
and feel without them having to engage the brain," says Herring. "I
don't want my students to have to put too much conscious effort into in while
training with an aid."
Herrick, PGA director of golf at Shaker Hills Country Club in Harvard, Mass.,
agrees, claiming that plainness is the best guideline when choosing a training
aid. That's particularly important for beginners, who can quickly get overwhelmed
focusing on too many aspects of a swing.
them, I love using a weighted club with a grip trainer because it's simple,"
Richards, PGA director of golf at Cannon Golf Club in Cannon Falls, Minn., prefers
to use proven products with her students. That is, she looks for "training
aids that are basically fool-proof. In other words, there is no doubt what the
training aid is designed to do. Also, I look for aids that are portable so that
both staff members and golfers will take them to the practice areas. If they're
too cumbersome, no one wants to haul them around."
so, Richards is so particular about which training aids her staff uses that she
has been known to doctor some up, to get them to emphasize what she feels is important.
Or she merely takes a proven concept and has it made exactly to her liking. For
example, putting tracks are popular these days. And Richards noticed that many
of her members were taking an outside stroke. "For those who have this problem
there are numerous cure-alls out there, but for us the most effective has been
the 2x4 or wooden dowel either painted to help visually, or plain for immediate
physical feedback," says Richards.
she couldn't find a product on the market that accomplished what she wanted, she
hired a local sheet metal shop to cut and smooth an aluminum angle iron. "The
angle-iron is fully adjustable, light-weight and very portable; it even fits in
most golf bags," she says. "I've dressed them up occasionally with paint
or stickers, but once the golfer sees the benefits, the aesthetics aren't as important."
to Use Them with Lessons
Several PGA Professionals interviewed for this story said that during lessons,
they prefer using Momentus Golf's Momentus Swing Trainer, because it helps develop
positive muscle memory and flexibility and can promote the proper swing path.
These same PGA teaching professionals aid it's the training aid they would most
suggest to students to buy on their own. For putting, several PGA Professionals
thought that the Putting Arc was the best training aid on the market.
you get to know which training aids are available, you may be able to recognize
the opportunity when a student can benefit from one. "If I see that what
I am trying to convey to students is radically different than what they already
do, I will make some recommendations," says Herring. "I also recommend
training aids to my very best players so they can train their swing when I am
he has used the Momentus Swing Trainer for warming up students prior to lessons
and the Swing Jacket on other occasions, Zack Veasey, PGA director of golf at
Hillandale Golf Club in Durham, N.C., is very cautious about using any training
aid during a session.
all keys to certain specific tendencies in the swing," he says. "But
you'd have to have a huge menu of aids at your fingertips to apply them to what
you want to do on a daily basis."
that's exactly why Herrick says e suggests students use a training aid "when
they're having trouble with specific issues. Sometimes the repetitions aren't
enough to help them gain the sensation and feel of proper techniques. When it
comes to an issue of tempo, I might suggest an aid such as a metronome."
only he'd known about the new Swing-Tempo from GP Golf Innovations, Herrick says
he would have been able to recommend it sooner instead of the metronome.
Selling Training Aids
In fact, if Herrick were to stock the Swing-Tempo, as well, he might be able to
make a few extra dollars for his golf shop. Many PGA Professionals tell us their
students and customers, alike, commonly ask about training aids that they've seen
featured on either infomercials, The Golf Channel or on the practice range. Yet
the same PGA Professionals tell us that they don't sell any aids.
PGA teaching professionals who stock a few of the more-popular devices, or gadgets
that they believe in, are likely to boost golf-shop sales. Richards, for instance,
says she stocks a swing track, a putting track and various Momentus products in
her shop. "I also like to work with the company Golf Around the World (founded
by PGA Master Professional Gary Wiren) because they have a terrific catalog and
they have good programs for PGA Professionals," she says. Is your shop missing
or maybe not, depending on the demand. Veasey, a national PGA Merchandiser of
the Year for public facilities, says he's tried selling training aids on various
occasions but it's just never worked out.
"For several reasons, I choose
to no longer sell them," says Veasey. "I don't have a lot of space to
display them. And when you see their return on investment, especially in my shop,
it's not a good move for me. Unless a training aid sells itself, it's something
you have to work very hard to sell. People don't often ask for them. I'm quick
at the trigger to stock anything, but these have not pulled us any success. I
like opportunities, and this is not one."
information on Virgil Herring's instructional CD-ROM, click
you have a question concerning an area of the golf swing or the short game, click
here to email Higher Performance Golf Academy.